Why your job will never make you happy

October 28, 2010

Philosophy

There are two fundamental reasons why I believe your full-time job will never make you happy.

1) You are working for a paycheck that you need in order to live in today’s society.
2) You are working on projects and on a timeline (M-F, 9-5) that is important to someone else, not you.

When you work at a job because you need the money, it places a certain amount of stress on you.  A stress to spend the majority of the day in an office you may not like.  A stress based in the fear that you could potentially get laid off at any time.  A stress to deal with the daily bullshit that you may experience in the workplace.  In order to eliminate #1, you first need to achieve financial independence.  You accomplish this by having enough saved income to replace your expenses.  Obviously, the greater your expenses, the longer you need to work in order to achieve independence.  This is why living simply will allow you to achieve your goals a lot quicker.  Once you have eliminated the need for the paycheck, it is easy to fix #2.

Do you dread Mondays?  The reason for that is because you are working on someone else’s schedule.  Someone long ago decided that you should have to work Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.  For some of you, this may even be a conservative estimate.  I am willing to bet that this is not the same timeline you have for yourself.  Weekends never seem long enough.  Even if you are passionate about what you do, I am willing to bet that you would enjoy the freedom to do it or not do it according to your own schedule.  True, some people work this much or maybe even longer on projects that they are really dedicated to, but once again, that is the schedule that they have set for themselves after financial independence is achieved.

One exercise that most people have heard of to determine where you’d spend your time if you had unlimited funds is to imagine that you have $10 million dollars or some other outrageous sum of money.  How would you spend your time if you had that much?  Would you continue working at your current job?  For most people, even those that may like what they’re doing, the answer is no.  You then start to imagine what you would do with your time if that was the case.  Maybe you’d fix up antique cars.  Maybe you’d volunteer some more.  Maybe you’d write and read more.  Regardless of what it is, it is probably significantly different from your full time job.  The problem with thinking about this is that the reality is that you don’t have $10 million dollars and the thing that you imagine doing probably won’t give you enough income to live on.  You don’t need $10 million or close to that amount.  How much you need will vary amongst individuals depending on the type of lifestyle you are willing to accept.  Achieving financial independence at an early age allows you to pursue those interests long before someone else gives you permission to do so (right now they say that you can only do this starting at age 65).

Don’t get me wrong.  There are definitely people out there that enjoy what they do.  However, for the two reasons above, their full time job will never be as fulfilling as it can be.  If you had the ability to eliminate Reason #1 from the equation, you would, in turn, be able to re-adjust your timelines and priorities as you see fit, eliminating Reason #2.  Therefore, if you are doing work that you find fulfilling on your own schedule and not because of the money, that is a true indicator of how you truly want to spend your time.

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